NFL

Tom Brady can Avoid a Career First With a Win Against the Saints

Two of the game’s greatest (and oldest) quarterbacks will battle in the divisional round. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by Tom Brady, head into the Superdome to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. This NFC South division battle pits the Bucs improving offense against the Saints defense, who has been on a roll as of late.

All eyes will be on Tom Brady for the third round of Bucs vs. Saints. He needs to have one of his signature performances if he wants to get to the conference championship. If his performance is enough the get Tampa Bay the win, he will avoid doing something that hasn’t happened for his entire career. 

Tom Brady is playing well entering the NFC Divisional round

The Buccaneers offense has been trying to get in a rhythm for the whole season. Without a typical offseason and training camp, Tom Brady had to gain chemistry on the fly in his first season with Tampa Bay. Things weren’t always working out as they should, especially early in the season. Brady has picked up his play in the season’s latter stages and is now entering the divisional round on fire. 

The last five games have been vintage Brady performances. He has thrown for 14 touchdowns and one interception in that span per ESPN. In four of the past five, Brady has thrown for over 325 yards. There hasn’t been a hotter quarterback entering the postseason than TB12. He has utilized Antonio Brown more in recent weeks, which gives the Bucs another lethal weapon at receiver.

Season 21 went pretty well for Brady. He threw for 4,633 yards, third-most in the NFL. Brady also threw the second-most touchdown passes with 40. He also finished in the top 10 amongst quarterbacks in QBR and passer rating. At age 42, there is still some juice left in Brady’s arm. He’s put that on full display in the past five contests.

The recent string of great performances by Brady should be a warning sign to the Saints. When he is on his game, Brady can shred opposing defenses. New Orleans is coming into this next matchup against Brady with confidence, given how they have fared against Tampa Bay this season.

Tom Brady has struggled against the Saints this season 

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If there is one team Brady has wet the bed against this season, it would be the Saints. The Saints’ defense has tormented the six-time champion in their two regular-season meetings. New Orleans defeated the Bucs 34-23 in Week 1 and then dominated them 38-3 in Week 9. Brady has had two of his worst outings of the season against the Saints.

In the two games against New Orleans, Brady has thrown for 448 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions. He posted his two lowest QBRs of the season playing the Saints. Even worse, Brady and the Bucs have been outscored 72-26 by Drew Bress and company. Why have the Saints been able to impact Tom Brady and Tampa Bay’s offense negatively?

It is because of the pressure they put on Brady and the Buc’s offensive line. In the two games they played, New Orleans sacked Brady six times. The key to stopping Brady is bringing the heat and knocking him off his spots. New Orleans’ pass rushers have been able to close the pocket on Brady, forcing him to throw the ball before he wants to. The Saints had 48 sacks in the regular season, eighth-most in the league, per Covers.com.

The Saints have had Brady’s number the entire season, which should play in their favor when they face off for the third time. Brady knows he’s played less than his best against the Saints this season and is looking to make amends. He is looking to avoid doing something that’s never happened before in his career.

The Saints are looking for the three-game sweep

With this being a win-or-go-home playoff game, there isn’t much more motivation Tom Brady needs for this game. Add in going against another great quarterback in Drew Brees, and there is even more motivation. However, Brady is looking to avoid losing three games to the same opponent in the same season for the first time in his career.

Brady has never had to worry about this because of the competition he had in the AFC East. None of those were talented enough to beat Brady and the Patriots three times in one season. Things are different now, as the Saints hold the 2-0 advantage over the Bucs and Brady. 

Beating a time three times in one season happens more than you think in the NFL. Since the 1970 merger, teams have met in the playoffs for a third battle 21 times. Of those 21 occurrences, the team that won the first two games won the third 14 times, per Football Perspective. History isn’t on Brady’s side coming into this high stakes playoff matchup.

Tom Brady will need to shake his struggles against the Saints. It is on him and the offensive line to deliver the W to the Bucs. He’s never lost three times to the same team before. Brady will do everything he can to prevent that from happening against Drew Brees and the Saints in the divisional round.

All stats courtesy of ESPN, Football Perspective, and Covers.com